Western Mustangs quarterback Will Finch named OUA MVP

Western Mustangs quarterback Will Finch named OUA MVP

BURLINGTON, Ont. - For the second time in three seasons, Western Mustangs quarterback Will Finch (Burlington, Ont.) has been named OUA Most Valuable Player.

Coming off an injury plagued 2014 season, Finch returned to form once again this year, leading the Mustangs to one of the most prolific offensive seasons in OUA and CIS history.  Western, who finished the regular season a perfect 8-0, became the highest-scoring team in CIS football history, finishing the with 494 points to break the previous single-season mark of 481 set by Laval in 2003.  The Mustangs scored 64 touchdowns this season, two more than the old national standard shared by Laval (2003) and Saint Mary's (2001).

Finch, a fourth-year social science student-athlete, threw for 2616 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 69.5 % of his passes this season, the second highest mark of his career.  The 6-foot-3, 215 lbs quarterback from Burlington, Ont., completed 166 of his 239 attempts on the season and averaged 327.0 yards per game to finish second in the conference.  On the ground, Finch ran the ball 33 times for 237 yards and three touchdowns.

Finch, who previously was named OUA MVP in 2013, was the catalyst for a Mustangs offence that put up 5721 yards of total offence during the regular season, an unprecedented average of 729.5 yards per game. 

The Burlington, Ont. native becomes the second Western Mustangs player to win the award twice in his career and the first player since Queen's Gaels quarterback Tommy Dennison (2002-03).

The Russ Jackson Nominee is a name put forward by OUA for the award presented annually by CIS to the player who best exemplifies the attributes of academic achievement, football skill, and citizenship.

This year's nominee is Queen's Gaels receiver Curtis Carmichael (Scarborough, Ont.).

In his fourth season with the Gaels, the 5-foot-10, 193 lbs receiver led the team with 34 receptions and finished the year with 520 yards and four touchdowns.  While Carmichael was an exemplary leader on field and in the locker room for the Gaels, it is his generosity with his time on campus and in the community that makes him an outstanding nominee for the Russ Jackson award.

Last year, Carmichael was an Academic All-Canadian and later this year will be the first member of his family to graduate from university.  Upon completion of his undergrad, the physical and health education student-athlete plans to enroll in teacher education next year.

When he isn't in the classroom or on the football field, Carmichael is a member of an organization called Nightlight which meets weekly with victims of drug addiction, disability or homelessness.  After growing up in a tough Scarborough, Ont. neighbourhood, Carmichael is now an engaged member of the Kingston community, volunteering as a physical education teacher at two local high schools with a high number of single parent and low income families.     

On his campus, Carmichael is a member of a student group of volunteers who assist young children with intellectual disabilities in the "Queen's Adapted Games".

This past summer, he volunteered for three weeks in Romania with "International Teams Canada" on "Impact Romania," an initiative that visits local orphanages.

Carmichael, who is a very spiritually orientated student-athlete, leads the weekly chapel group on the football team.  He has been involved with Athletes in Action and is a member of "Navigators," a group on campus that regularly meets with younger university students for bible study and to promote a healthy balanced living.

Guelph Gyphons linebacker John Rush (Niagara Falls, Ont.) led the country in tackles, captaining a defence that only allowed 19.9 points against on average.  For his outstanding play this year, Rush has been awarded the President's Trophy for OUA Stand-up Defensive Player of the Year.

Appearing in seven games this season for the Gryphons, Rush recorded 32 solo and 56 assisted tackles for a total of 60 tackles to lead OUA and CIS.  The fifth-year linebacker averaged 8.6 tackles per game while getting to the quarterback three times for a loss of 18 yards. 

When he wasn't getting into the opposing backfield, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs standout proved he could still haunt the quarterback, finishing tied for third on the Gryphons with two interceptions.  As a team, the Guelph defence led the province in fumbles recovered with 12 and second with 13 interceptions.

Rush was also selected as a first-team all-star this season for the first time in his fifth and final season with the Gryphons, after being named a second-team all-star in 2012.  The marketing management student-athlete becomes the first Guelph player since Mike O'Shea in 1992 to win the award and fourth in team history.  Former Gryphon Sam Benincasa also won the President's Trophy in 1982 and 1983.

After a strong 2015 season, defensive end Kwaku Boateng (Milton, Ont.) of the Laurier Golden Hawks takes home the J.P Metras Award for OUA Lineman of the Year.

In just his third season in the league, Boateng was a force to be reckoned with for the Hawks, as the 6-foot-2, 240 lbs defensive end finished the year with 18 tackles.  However, with nine of those tackles coming behind the line of scrimmage, 50% of the time Boateng was driving the opposition backwards.  Boateng also led the Golden Hawks and finished 8th in OUA with four sacks in eight games.

Off the field, the third-year business major is a two-time CIS Academic All-Canadian and was named an OUA first-team all-star this season for the first time in his career.

Boateng becomes the 8th Golden Hawk in program history to be a CIS J.P. Metras Award nominee and if selected would join Scott Evans (2007) and Veron Stiliadis (1988) as winners from Laurier.

In just his first season in the conference, York Lions running back Jesse Amankwaa (Etobicoke, Ont.) ran wild on opposing defences and is this year's recipient of the Norm Marshall Trophy for OUA Rookie of the Year.

Appearing in all eight games for the Lions, Amankwaa finished second in OUA in rushes with 137, while his 689 yards placed him sixth in the conference.  Only former OUA MVP Dillon Campbell ran the ball more often this season than Amankwaa did in his rookie year.  The 6-foot-0, 216 lbs running back averaged 86.1 yards per game and finished inside the top 10 with four TDs.

Amankwaa announced his arrival into the league on Sept. 19th against the Waterloo Warriors when he had 24 rushes for 131 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career.  However, the health & society major saved his best game for last, as he had a season high 31 rushes for 182 yards and two touchdowns as the Lions almost upset the No. 10 Queen's, with the Gaels prevailing by a single point.

The former Michael Power/St. Joseph C.S.S. product joins some pretty exclusive running back company as former Windsor Lancer Daryl Stephenson and current Indianapolis Colt Tyler Varga both won the award.  Amankwaa becomes the fifth York Lion to win the award and first to do so since Jeff Johnson was recognized in 1996 following his freshman year.  Johnson won the Peter Gorman Trophy as the CIS Rookie of the Year that season.

For the fifth time in his career, Western Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall has been honoured with the Dave 'Tuffy' Knight Award as OUA Coach of the Year, presented by Centaur Products. Marshall, in his ninth season with the team, guided the Mustangs to a perfect 8-0 regular season and a spot in the 108th Yates Cup, presented by Investors Group. 

Marshall previously won the award in 2010 and 2013 with Western and in 1999 and 2000 while at the helm of the McMaster Marauders. He also captured the CIS Coach of the Year award back in 2000, and was named the CFL Coach of the Year in 2004 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

In the final game of the regular season, Marshall recorded his 100th career win against his former team, the previously mentioned Marauders.

The trophy case at the Marshall household is becoming quite crowded as the former Mustangs running back also won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the nation's most outstanding player in 1980.

A native of Guelph, Ont., Marshall has coached all three of his sons at Western.  Tom, who earlier this week was named a first-team all-star still plays for the Mustangs, while brothers Brian and Donnie have both finished their university careers.

The 2015 Volunteer Coach of the Year Award goes to York Lions Assistant Head Coach / Linebackers  Coach Tom Norwell.

Norwell is a tremendously valuable asset to the Lions coaching staff and is heavily involved in recruiting, specifically on defence and with the linebackers.  What makes Norwell's contributions to the program even more impressive is that he works south of the border in Tennessee. 

The coach, who has been with the York football program since 2010, flies into Toronto from the "Volunteer State" on Thursdays in time for that night's practice, and then stays to coach the game on the weekend and help with corrections on Sunday before flying back to Tennessee for another week of full-time work.  Norwell also plans his summer vacation around Lions training camp so he can be in attendance to work with the linebacking corps.

Norwell worked with Team Ontario for two years, serving as the defensive line coach in 2011 and the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach in 2012. Prior to joining the coaching staff at York, he spent 10 years as the defensive coordinator at Dr. G.W. Williams S.S. in Aurora, and has also worked as a guest coach with Concordia University and the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

The 2015 Officials Award of Merit goes to Kevin Horton who has been involved in OUA football since 2007. 

Horton, who began officiating football in the late 1980's in Ottawa, has officiated in three of the four conferences in CIS.  When he isn't working OUA games, Horton is also committed to officiating high school and minor football throughout the province. 

In addition to being an on-field official, Kevin is also the President of the Ottawa Official's Association for eight years and has been the Vice President of the OUA Officials Association for the past four years.  He is currently a representative on the Ontario Football Officials Association.

2015 OUA FOOTBALL MAJOR AWARD WINNERS

Most Valuable Player – Will Finch – Western

President's Trophy (Outstanding Stand-up Defensive Player) – John Rush – Guelph

J.P. Metras Trophy (Lineman of the Year) – Kwaku Boateng – Laurier

Norm Marshall Trophy (Rookie of the Year) – Jesse Amankwaa – York

Dave 'Tuffy' Knight Award (Coach of the Year) – Greg Marshall – Western

Russ Jackson Nominee – Curtis Carmichael – Queen's

Volunteer Coach of the Year – Tom Norwell – York

Officials Award of Merit – Kevin Horton

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